Future Chinese population collapse?

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According to Mei Fong’s new book “One Child“, the Chinese population began contracting and will continue to do so:

The one-child policy sharply accelerated a drop in fertility. China’s massive 800-million-person workforce — larger than Europe’s population — started to contract in 2012 and will continue doing so for years to come, driving up wages and contributing to global inflationary pressures. …

Many say it’s simply too costly and stressful to raise multiple offspring in modern-day China. In that sense, the one-child policy can be deemed a success, for many Chinese have thoroughly internalized the mindset that the one-child household is the ideal.

If Beijing is unable to reverse this thinking, then somewhere in the decade between 2020 and 2030, China’s population will peak and decline.

By the middle of this century it seems that demographic winter will be looming. Perhaps in the 22nd century, combatting shrinking populations will be the chief problem that nations face.

Meditating on the Scripture during Lent

Often when I think of Lent, it is fasting that first comes to mind. We are called to put off food during Lent. But we are also called to put something on in true Biblical fashion, and that is a renewed reading and meditating on God’s Word. Lent can be a spur for us to get back into studying the Scripture and reflecting on its teachings. As the Book of Common Prayer says:

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

So if I engage in the fasting and self-denying aspects of Lent, I should far more importantly feast on God’s Word written.

Thank you to Leonard’s Books

I had a couple fairly cheap Bibles that were in bad shape. Neither were terribly old, and both text blocks were in pretty good condition, but the covers were in shambles and one was disintegrating. The first was a Crossway ESV Thinline Edition that I purchased in 2005 and carried around for a few years. The text was fine but the cover was scratched, falling apart and in poor shape. The second Bible was a New American Standard Ultra Thin Reference Edition published by Broadman & Holman that I bought my wife in 1997. It was basically unusable due to falling apart. Although the text block was OK, maps were falling out and endpapers were not in good shape.

I decided to send both of these Bibles to Leonard’s Books after reading such glowing reviews of their work and seeing pictures of it too. Today, our Bibles came back in the mail, and Leonard’s did delightful work! Here are some “after” pictures though, and I hope they show you how Leonard’s took some average, cheap Bibles that did not last very long at all and turned them into really solid books that should last for many, many decades to come. Thanks Leonard’s!

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The ESV Thinline
The NAS before the rebind
The NAS was in bad shape!
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The NAS
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Both Bibles showing the yap and ribbons, which are original
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How the NAS opens
Both texts open, NAS on top, ESV on the bottom
Both texts open, NAS on top, ESV on the bottom
For comparison, the Leonard's rebinds on the bottom with the ESV Reader's edition from Crossway, and the ESV Clarion Reference edition from Cambridge
For comparison, the Leonard’s rebinds on the bottom with the ESV Reader’s edition from Crossway, and the ESV Clarion Reference edition from Cambridge

Anjan Sundaram’s book “Bad News”

With Bad News, Last Journalists in a DictatorshipAnjan Sundaram has written a book that everyone involved with Rwanda should read. While there are other works of recent history that are very valuable, many of them are quite technical and I am afraid they lose your average American reader. Sundaram’s book is very well-written and avoids technical details. For example, he calls the RPF, “the President’s party.”

The book is chilling, horrifying and depressing, as well as accurate. Sundaram worked in Kigali for a few years, trying to train journalists on how to report effectively. Unfortunately, because Rwanda is a police state that functions like a cult, it has become an open-air prison and so his students either gave in and became lap-dogs for the government, or they were tortured, detained, killed and harassed into submission. The book reminded me of 1984 if it was played out in the real world. Everywhere that Sundaram goes, plainclothes spies are watching. Their presence ensures that anyone who talks to him only repeats the script that he or she knows they are to recite. Everything is under surveillance and the government controls society down to the household level, there is no escape from its watchful eye. 1)From an interview: “There’s a very granular level of government control in Rwanda. If someone comes and stays at your house your neighbors will inform the local chief who lives just two streets down, and that chief will have a direct connection to a line of authority that reaches all the way to the center in Kigali.
This structure was the reason why the genocide began so quickly and proceeded so efficiently in 1994 after the government gave the order to kill.”

The Rwanda that Sundaram reveals is one where one genocide survivor tells him, “…the government mocks the genocide, uses it to get pity from the world, to get money, and at the same time to keep us in a state of fear” (23). It is a nation where unquestioning obedience is required, which is exactly what enabled the genocide in 1994. If Paul Kagame says to do something, you do it or you suffer terrible consequences. One day, Sundaram travels south and visits villages where huts have been destroyed. It looks like an act of war, but the people are lethargic and quiet. All of the grass roofs have been removed from the huts, and so Sundaram’s friend asks what has happened? Who did this?

“We did” is the reply they receive. “The man said the local authorities had come to the village and told the people to destroy their roofs. It was an order. “And you obeyed?” I said. “At once.” He was grim, as though this should not be questioned. Had the authorities explained their order? “They said the president had felt the grass roofs were too primitive.” And what did this man think? “They are too primitive,” he said. “Our country is modern now.”

The people in these huts now shiver in the rain. Their elderly were sick and some died. Many lived in the forest for some shelter. They destroyed their own homes without any protest because of a Presidential whim. This is the kind of blind following that goes on in Rwanda in every sector, in every field, all the time. As Sundaram says in an interview:

It was a world in which they could trust almost no one, where people performed a kind of theater in order to please the government. They would disown friends, disown family, isolate themselves. And the power of the system was that people did these things to themselves.

As an Anglican, reading this book brought home to me the utter futility of what I have been doing. The Anglican Church in Rwanda will never speak up about the wickedness happening there. In fact, it helps further this wickedness. Expecting it to speak up is expecting it to want to die, and while this is what should happen for Christians, given that we are commanded to go to the cross with Christ, to suffer and die and to speak out against evil states like this, I don’t see it happening in Rwanda. The culture of obedience is absolute there. People betray their own families in Rwanda to curry favor with the State. Someone there might hate Kagame in his heart, and yet he will outwardly sing his praises in order to stay alive and stay in the good graces of the Party. Bishops praise this wicked man openly. Our American bishops are fooled by the phony show that is played out in this prison, and don’t talk to those who could open their eyes, namely the Rwandans who have fled for their lives and can speak freely. It would upset the apple cart and the politics of the Anglican Communion to actually look into things beyond a surface level.

And so this tragedy will play itself out. In the same way that the church prior to the genocide said nothing and followed blindly in obedience, the church of today repeats the pattern. This sick nation will stay sick, telling lies to the West to keep its budget going, bragging about development while the West is happy to ignore the mountains of evidence that show how deeply evil this regime is. The Anglican Church has utterly failed to be a witness, and is content with projects that ignore the real sources of pain in the nation. You might even be a missionary in Rwanda and have your security guard go missing, “disappeared” like so many others, but will it wake you up? Unfortunately no.

While there desperately needs to be a change and a realization of what we are dealing with in the Anglican Church of Rwanda, I see no signs of that happening.

 

References   [ + ]

1. From an interview: “There’s a very granular level of government control in Rwanda. If someone comes and stays at your house your neighbors will inform the local chief who lives just two streets down, and that chief will have a direct connection to a line of authority that reaches all the way to the center in Kigali.
This structure was the reason why the genocide began so quickly and proceeded so efficiently in 1994 after the government gave the order to kill.”

Weekly Communion in the Augsburg Confession

If you are Lutheran, how often should you have Communion in your services? Here is what the Augsburg Confession says:

Because the Mass is for the purpose of giving the Sacrament, we have Communion every holy day, and if anyone desires the Sacrament, we also offer it on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it. – Article XXIV: 34

To be Lutheran should mean to have Communion at least every Sunday, as well as on other days.

Bishop Nathan Gasatura: “Kagame honors the Lord”

On February 23, 2011 Rwandan Anglican Bishop Nathan Gasatura spoke during the chapel message at Wheaton College. During his message, he mentioned that he went to high school with Rwanda’s dictator, Paul Kagame:

I have been in the presence of the Presidents, about four, in our region, and every time I ask the Lord, “Lord give me the strength to just raise your flag, just in a small humble way.” And recently when, you know, we met, the President Kagame with many delegates we talked business and after were done we were to go and in my heart I said, “Oh Lord, I’m failing you help me!” And I put up my hand and asked, I said, “Your excellency, would you allow me to kindly pray in this place?” He said, “Of course Nathan” because we bumped into each other in some high school, so we knew each other a little bit.

And he was right there, it’s a big, big, you know, Presidential hall. And I just felt I need to move and pray with him there, something crazy, some of these things happen. So, I, I said, “if I move the security will think I’m in, you know, I’m up to something.” But I said anyway, “don’t worry” so I walked right across and as I stood behind him, near him, we were almost the same height, so I said, “yeah, I think it’s fitting to put my hand on him.” I prayed, and we all got out so I said, “who knows when I will ever have the opportunity like this?” Praise be to God.

Bishop Gasatura discusses the much-touted reconciliation process in Rwanda between the Hutu and the Tutsi. He goes on to make the astounding claim that “Kagame honors the Lord”:

In Rwanda the story of forgiveness, healing, peacebuilding and reconciliation has been a very painful journey, has been a heartbreaking journey, has been a painful, excruciating journey, has been a very, very, hostile journey, but it has been a worthwhile journey. We thank God for the leadership whom we believe God has used in some way because Kagame honors the Lord. He doesn’t proclaim Christianity openly, many of his ministers, members of Parliament and Senators they honor the Lord. When you come in the Presidential Prayer Breakfast that’s when you see it, it’s, it’s just moving. And we have no doubt that God has used that government to be used as his instrument like he used King Darius. And, Rwanda is changing partly because of the work of the church and government and other forces.

Bishop Gasatura then claims that Kagame was used by God to stop revenge after the genocide of 1994:

When the genocide was beaten and stopped, the very first policy that was put in place was a policy of no revenge, Kagame, somehow was used by God to say, “If we never stop this bloodletting and revenge this vicious cycle will never stop.” So he put in place like a general an order, which had not gone into policy and law, that nobody was allowed whatsoever to shed blood of someone who had killed even 200 of your family members, the government will handle that, nobody (should) take the law in his hands. And today that policy has gone into practice, into law, and a Commission of Unity and Reconciliation has been put in place to re-educate and help the Rwandans unlearn the wrong and poisonous history that they were taught. And if that was not supported by the Church, praying and interceding and teaching, and you know, repenting, it would never go far.

Fact checking the Bishop

Does Kagame honor the Lord?

One of his former cabinet ministers told me, “Like all of us, he grew up Catholic. He has never seriously practiced any faith.Before those he trusts, he ridicules faith in God, and those who believe.”

Furthermore, Kagame is a murderer who crushes all dissent in the open prison that is Rwanda, not quite the qualities of a leader who honors the Lord.

Did Kagame stop the bloodletting?

To the contrary, the entire reign of Kagame is covered in blood. Look at just a couple of the thousands of examples; first, former Kagame bodyguard Aloys Ruyezni wrote:

The Murder of Religious Leaders in Rwanda

The 157th Battalion, led by (then) Col. Fred Ibingira, killed many innocent people in Mutara, Kibungo, Bugesera, Gitarama and elsewhere during the final attack to take control of the country. This includes the bishops who were murdered in Kabgayi. The 157th Battalion’s I.O., Wilson Gumisiriza, organized a section of his staff to kill the bishops. It was led by (then) Sgt. Kwitegetse (alias Burakari), who was briefed on the mission by Gumisiriza. Gen. Kagame gave the final order to kill the bishops to Col. Ibingira. He gave him the order in these words: “Remove those rubbishes,” or “Fagia,” in Swahili.

Ruyenzi again:

Maj. Silas Udahemuka was appointed by President Kagame to supervise the killing of civilians during 1994 and afterwards. He would complete his assigned operation and then report back directly to Gen. Kagame.

The example of Festo Kivengere

Bishop Gasatura rightly praises the example of Ugandan Bishop Festo Kivengere, and says he wants to be like him. However, Kivengere spoke up against his dictator, Idi Amin, and had to flee Uganda because of it. Bishop Festo wrote:

A suffering Church can bless a nation and provide a refuge to which the suffering society may turn for healing, for liberation and hope. This was proved in Uganda as the Church came under more systematic attack, and hundreds of martyrs’ deaths were added to that of the archbishop’s.

Bishop Gasatura is knowingly or unknowingly spreading falsehoods about Rwanda and the nature of Paul Kagame.

http://alivingtext.com/blog/2013/05/06/rwandan-bishop-nathan-gasatura-hosted-awards-event-for-kagame/

 

ACNA Task Force on Holy Orders Update – January 2016

fca task force
FCA Theological Resource Group circa 2009

The latest meeting of the ACNA College of Bishops included a brief update on the Task Force on Holy Orders. As a reminder, we are now in Phase 3 of this Task Force’s work, and to date each phase has taken about a calendar year to complete.

Phase 1: Organization of the Task Force – complete

Phase 2: Hermeneutical Principles – complete

Phase 3: Ecclesiological Principles – in progress

Phase 4: Arguments for and against the Ordination of Women.

Phase 5: Final Report to the College of Bishops

The task force is behind schedule, at least according to their own report last year:

It is our hope that the completed report for Phase Three will be complete by the time of meeting of the College of Bishops in January 2016.

Here is what the bishops reported:

The Theological Task Force on Holy Orders is in phase three of their process.  In this phase, they are focusing on the manner in which ecclesiology relates to ordination and holy orders. The Task Force continues to identify those perspectives on ordination which lead to divergent understandings within our tradition about the nature of holy orders.

Three papers are in the process of composition, which will present the manner in which ecclesiology is understood from the three primary perspectives that comprise our Province: Anglo-Catholic, Charismatic, and Evangelical/Reformed. They anticipate that Phase Three will be complete by the next meeting of the bishops in June 2016.  A webpage is going to be developed early in the Spring of 2016 to provide the resources developed by the Task Force.

The Task Force communicates with and receives comments from something called The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) Theological Resource group. I have asked who is part of this group and have not heard an answer, although according to this post, the group consisted of these members in 2009:

Dr George Malek (South Africa), Canon Dr Kevin Donlon (USA), Revd Dr Charles Raven (UK), Revd Dr Roger Beckwith (UK), Revd Dr Mark Thompson (Australia), Revd Professor Stephen Noll (Uganda), Canon Dr Chris Sugden (UK), Canon Etienne Mbusa (Congo), Dr Ngozi Okeke (Nigeria), Revd Erin Clifford (UK), Rt Revd John Akao (Nigeria), Rt Revd Ikechi Nwachukwu Nwosu (Nigeria), Mrs Imsola Odunayia (Nigeria), Canon Arthur Middleton (UK).

As a reminder, the members of the Task Force on Holy Orders and their presumptive positions on women’s ordination are as follows:

Rt. Rev. David Hicks, REC Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic – Against
Rt. Rev. Kevin Allen, Diocese of Cascadia – For
Mrs. Katherine Atwood, Diocese of Ft. Worth – Unknown
The Rev. Dr. Leslie Fairfield, Diocese in New England, Trinity Seminary (Ret.) – For
The Rev. Canon Mary Hays, Diocese of Pittsburgh – For
The Rev. Tobias Karlowicz, Diocese of Quincy – Against
The Rt. Rev. Eric Menees, Diocese of San Joaquin – Against

The previous post on the Task Force is here.

Communique from the High Priests of Jerusalem, Dan and Beersheba

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Samaria

A communique from the high priests at Jerusalem, Dan and Beersheba 1)And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David. If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Then this thing became a sin, for the people went as far as Dan to be before one. He also made temples on high places and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he had devised from his own heart. And he instituted a feast for the people of Israel and went up to the altar to make offerings. 1 Kings 12:26-33

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It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years the priests of Dan and Beersheba no longer represent us in discussions with the priests of Baal and Asherah, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Levitical priesthood, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

We have asked Azariah to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Yahweh.

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References   [ + ]

1. And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David. If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Then this thing became a sin, for the people went as far as Dan to be before one. He also made temples on high places and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he had devised from his own heart. And he instituted a feast for the people of Israel and went up to the altar to make offerings. 1 Kings 12:26-33

Bishop Rucyahana calls Kagame’s dictatorship a source of joy

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Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame recently shredded the Constitution and can now be President of Rwanda for the rest of his life. Kagame has blood on his hands and rules over a Police State, which is a highly documented fact.

Retired Anglican bishop John Rucyahana thinks that this move to formalize his dictatorship is a source of joy for Rwanda. According to Rwandan propaganda organ The New Times:

Bishop Rucyahana also added President Paul Kagame’s acceptance to stand again for presidency after his second term ends in 2017 was yet another source of joy as people celebrate the New Year.

“It’s a joy for President Kagame to be able to respond to the request of the nation,” Rucyahana said.

ACNA is attaching itself at the hip to Rwanda. If you are part of ACNA, specifically the future Rwanda Ministry Partners, you should start asking your clergy why praising a dictator is just fine in 2016.

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